OFF TO THE RACES: About last night
AL-SEN: One of us(!) takes a look at the factors that sunk Roy Moore — including how the allegations of sexual assault against him dampened GOP turnout and fired up the Jones coalition.
From NBC’s Jonathan Allen: “Women drew the line at Roy Moore. There are many reasons why Moore became the first Republican nominee to lose an Alabama Senate race since 1992 on Tuesday night, including a strong turnout by African-American voters and a lack of enthusiasm among Moore's base. But with Moore denying multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior with teenage girls, and attacking his accusers against the backdrop of a national reckoning on sexual misconduct, the most striking aspect of the vote may have been the unmistakable message sent by the women of Alabama about how much was too much.”
What does it mean for the White House? NBC’s White House unit reports: “The reverberations from Doug Jones' apparent victory extended into the West Wing, with President Donald Trump's political shop facing a potential crisis, according to multiple White House officials and Republicans close to the administration. One administration official Wednesday-morning-quarterbacked Trump's endorsement of Roy Moore last week in the Alabama Senate contest, acknowledging there are those in the White House who questioned the president's decision to get behind the GOP candidate in the first place. Still, the result for Republicans "would have been a lot worse" if Trump hadn't thrown his support behind Moore, this person suggested.”
More in POLITICO: “For the president, who ignored the advice of both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his own political team at the White House to stay out of the race, it was a self-inflicted wound. Though he has at times appeared to be able to whip up the support of Republican voters around an issue on a whim, be it to inveigh against the NFL policy on standing during the national anthem or to direct their fury at the press, Tuesday's results demonstrated that he was incapable of rallying his base around the man who was perhaps his most controversial cause.”
The AL.com editorial board: “Half a century after Alabamians of immense courage changed the course of history in the streets of Birmingham and Selma and Montgomery, the voice of justice once again rings out from the deep south - from the ballots of black Alabamians, of women, and of young people of all genders committed to moving our world forward… While so many watchers from outside our borders scorned and jeered us through these last few months, Alabamians showed Tuesday what we are made of, and what we are still craving.”
The New York Times offers some key takeaways, and the Washington Post looks at how Democrats are feeling buoyant about 2018.
Dan Balz, in the Washington Post: “[T]he tumultuous election served to expose further the fissures, fault lines and rivalries that have only widened in the 13 months since Trump captured the White House. The election provided the capstone to a year of tumult inside the GOP, and at a time when the party controls the levers of power in Washington and states across the country, the Alabama campaign was one more reminder that this is a party facing a major identity crisis and no easy answers for how to resolve it.”
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How did it play in Europe? The Washington Post: “Relief over the Alabama election result in Europe was far from being limited to liberal media outlets, and was widely seen as a “notable setback for President Donald Trump,” as France’s liberal Liberation newspaper wrote. Its center-left competitor Le Monde declared the Tuesday result a “referendum about Trump’s political agenda” and Britain’s Financial Times agreed that that it was “a big blow for Mr Trump.”
MN-SEN: The governor of Minnesota will name Al Franken’s replacement today.
VA-SEN: Don’t miss Ed Gillespie taking stock of the political environment and saying Trump was a “big factor” in his loss.
TRUMP AGENDA: Republicans scramble to finalize tax bill
The latest on the tax bill from the New York Times: “Republican lawmakers, scrambling to reach agreement on a final tax bill that they hope to pass next week, are coalescing around a plan that would slightly raise the proposed corporate tax rate, lower the top rate on the richest Americans and scale back the existing mortgage interest deduction. In a frenzy of last-minute negotiations, Republicans drew closer to agreement on nudging the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, up from the 20 percent in the bills that passed the House and Senate but still lower than the current 35 percent corporate rate, according to a lawmaker and a person briefed on the discussions.”
And in the Wall Street Journal: “As the U.S. Congress attempts to hammer out a final tax plan, Wall Street is fighting to limit the scope of a provision meant to discourage companies from sending money overseas to avoid taxes. Banks’ beef: The way the provision is written in the Senate version of the tax bill could make some key bank businesses much more expensive. These include transactions in the $2 trillion repurchase obligation, or “repo,” market, as well as the business of lending out stock that banks and other firms hold on behalf of customers. Foreign banks, too, say the tax provision will make their U.S. operations more expensive and reduce their ability to lend in the U.S.”
From Julia Ainsley: “The Department of Justice released 90 pages of text messages late Tuesday night, many harshly critical of candidate Donald Trump, that were exchanged between an FBI lawyer and an agent who was later assigned to Robert Mueller's special counsel team. The e-mails were exchanged between Peter Strzok, one of the top FBI agents assigned to the Mueller investigation, and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer. The two were romantically involved.”
More from the New York Times: “Senior F.B.I. officials who helped investigate Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign last year wrote in text messages that Hillary Clinton “just has to win” and described a potential Trump victory as “terrifying,” according to texts released Tuesday night. A top counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok, exchanged the messages with Lisa Page, a senior F.B.I. lawyer. Some messages criticized Mrs. Clinton’s team, the Obama administration, Congress and other Democrats. But the two appeared appalled at some of Mr. Trump’s comments during the campaign and feared that he would politicize the F.B.I.”
The New York Times notes that Trump’s cries of “fake news” are being adopted by political strongmen around the globe.
Kirsten Gillibrand, on TODAY, called Trump “a bully” who “has often berated women.”
The White House says that those who have interpreted Trump’s tweet about Gillibrand in a sexual manner have their minds “in the gutter.”
The New York Times notes that Trump has “ensured that calls for renewed scrutiny of the women’s allegations would gain new momentum and that Democrats, who have aggressively recruited women to run for Congress, will have a volatile new issue in the midterm elections next year.”
Rex Tillerson says it will take at least three years to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
The Fed is expected to raise interest rates, the Wall Street Journal notes.